Someone to Protect
Zynis continued to explain.
“Maki. Chiharu. It hasn’t been long since you last participated in a mission with us, has it?”
“Yes. It was really something.”
Chiharu had a far away look as she recalled the stubborn chief of the merfolk.
“You two and I were just supposed to be scouts.”
“But we ended up being part of the rescue mission.”
Zynis and Chiharu chuckled together. However, his expression quickly became serious again.
“I’ve known you two ever since you were summoned here. I felt terrible that I couldn’t be by your side during hard times. And I felt that I should protect you more… But…”
“After returning from the dwarf lands, Edwy said something to me. That the Saintesses are not such weak people that we have to protect them. We should talk to them properly so they can act as they see fit.”
That was Edwy. Though he was not here, their rating of him increased greatly.
“However, you two immediately set off for the elf lands next. And I had my own mission to attend to. And so I didn’t really have time to feel what Edwy had said.”
Indeed. He hadn’t even seen them leave on the airship.
“But fate unexpectedly had us cooperate on the matter of Amia. And I was able to witness your strength and resolve and realize that I had underestimated you.”
Zynis said as he looked at Maki and Chiharu.
“And so I will make an official request from the beastlands. It won’t be anything too difficult. But I want you to help us return the monsters to magic stones.”
Behind him, Sauro also took a step forward.
“While the beastfolk are all in agreement, I will also make the request as a representative of the birdfolk. Will you please accept our invitation to the beastlands?”
Well, there was no way they could refuse. Maki was just about to answer excitedly, but then she felt someone squeeze her hand.
Surprisingly, it was Chiharu. She had been quick to accept the request from Saia, so why was she hesitating now? Chiharu never abandoned friends who were in need of help.
“Zynis. Sauro. Do you mind if Maki and I talk about it before answering? It shouldn’t take long.”
Chiharu was still holding Maki’s hand.
“Indeed. I would not expect you to make a decision immediately. We will wait for a while.”
“Perfect. We can talk and catch up then, old friend.”
Toul said happily as Zynis nodded.
“I’ll take Maki and Chiharu to the antechamber then.”
The fifth princess said. Aaron and Sauro went with Zynis. Maki and Chiharu were taken to the room and quickly served some tea.
“Aila. What is it?”
The first princess suddenly addressed Maki.
“Even if it’s an official request, you shouldn’t push yourself too hard.”
“I’m not saying this out of a selfish desire to have you two stay in the elf lands. But from what I’ve heard, you’ve been traveling almost nonstop since you were summoned. Yes, things were bad here, and they are likely bad in the beast lands. But they cannot rely on you alone.”
“Anyway, you must think about it.”
Then she left the room hurriedly.
“Hehe. You two are getting along well.”
“I wonder why? I guess it’s because she’s Chiharu’s rival, but not mine.”
“She isn’t my rival. Hmph.”
Chiharu said, and Maki chuckled.
“Still, this is surprising, Chiharu. I thought you would agree to go immediately.”
“Yes, I do want to go. Especially if it’s for Sauro, Saikania, and Zynis. I don’t even care if it’s dangerous.”
“I agree. I knew you would say that. So why didn’t you earlier?”
Maki asked honestly. Chiharu glanced at her and then looked at the floor.
“Last time, when we went to help Amia.”
“I chose to go because I didn’t want to regret not doing anything. But I ended up involving a lot of people.”
“Ah, well, maybe…”
“And I’ve been wondering if I made the right decision.”
“I think you did.”
Maki said without hesitation. Even if you had doubts about different things, you had to do it once you made a decision. And if anyone should be blamed, it was Saia.
“Besides, it’s not like we’ll be running off like the other time. They are making an official request.”
“Yes. But still… There is something that I realized recently.”
“Saia. I think we were just used.”
“Oh, you just realized that?”
“So I’m right?”
They had had plenty of time to think recently.
“Sometimes I can be very easily persuaded. I don’t like saying no, or doubting the intentions of others.”
“That’s true. And sometimes people know that, and they take advantage of you.”
It had happened often enough back in Japan.
“I don’t think that Sauro or Zynis are using us at all. But I’m not sure about other people.”
“Well, even Dilon and Corete were afraid of our power. How will we know if the others will be friendly towards us? What if they just see us as tools?”
This was strange. Chiharu had never been so pessimistic about things before.
“And what if something happened to you, Maki?”
So it was the same thing. Maki intended to protect Chiharu no matter what. And Chiharu felt the same way towards her. She was afraid that her whims would one day endanger Maki.
They sat next to each other, shoulder to shoulder.
“If I’m being honest, I felt like I had lost you to Aeris for a while.”
“What? That’s ridiculous.”
Maki felt a little sorry for Aeris then.
“He treats me very well, but he clearly favors you, Chiharu. So does Edwy, now that I think about it.”
“Well, at least you have Kaider?”
“Ohh, you aren’t wrong.”
They both chuckled.
“I don’t know. Is it because they tend to live so long, or because they are so busy with work? I feel a certain excitement, but I don’t want things to be laid out and clarified just yet.”
“I understand that.”
“But it’s because of that, that I don’t want to lose you, Maki-chan.”
“Chiharu. Yes. Me too.”
She did not want to lose Chiharu. However… Maki raised her voice just a little.
“However… Nothing will begin if you just stay inside the whole time!”
“Yes, yes. Even if we shut ourselves up in the castle, incidents would still come to us.”
Like the Mandragoras. And more recently, the honey bees.
“And so we might as well go to them ourselves, right?”
“And if we can help protect important people doing it, wouldn’t that be better?”
Maki and Chiharu faced each other.
“Let’s continue to protect each other.”
“And move forward together.”
They had made their decision.
“Now, it’s off to the beast lands!”
And so their journey continued.